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“Fly in League with the Night” is the first-ever major survey of the figurative painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Featuring more than 70 paintings, the exhibition spans nearly 20 years of the British artist’s career, including works from her graduate show up through new works never before presented.
Yiadom-Boakye’s subjects, entirely imagined within the artist’s mind, are captured in dramatic tones—sometimes their dark, warm skin is juxtaposed by a lightly colored piece of clothing or a bright backdrop, and others, they’re surrounded by flashes like deep purple, blue, and red. The figures exist in a dimension of their own, devoid of any specific time or place, leaving much open to the interpretation of the viewer.
Visitors at Tate Britain can experience the development of the artist’s practice starting with early works made in 2003, like First, up through her newer paintings, including an excited figure entitled Razorbill, a groovy female form playing with a cross around her neck called No Objection To Noises, and the heavily shadowed The Stygian Silk, which depicts a person surrounded by dogs.
The exhibition shines a light on the artist’s writing in her practice, exemplified in poetic painting titles like A Hatred In May and Tie the Temptress to the Trojan. On view through May 9, 2021, “Fly in League with the Night” dives further into Yiadom-Boakye’s practice with a fully illustrated catalog including words by the artist, in addition to essays by curators, Andrea Schlieker and Isabella Maidment, and the poet and writer Elizabeth Alexander.